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Pre-Game Report

New England (6-5), Dallas Cowboys (6-5)Sunday, Dec. 5, 1999, 8:00 p.m. ETat Foxboro Stadium

Where can you catch the game?

Television:This week's game will be broadcast regionally on ESPN (locally on WCVB Channel 5 in Boston). Mike Patrick will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partners Paul Maguire and Joe Theismann. Solomon Wilcots will report from the sidelines.
Radio:WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, the voice of the Patriots, will call all the action along with Gino Cappelletti, his broadcast partner for 16 years.
Patriots Monday:Patriots Monday, from 4pm-7pm every Monday (WNRB-AM 1510 or through Patriots.com) with hosts Butch Stearns and Jim Donaldson. Guests include Drew Bledsoe, Pete Carroll, Ty Law, Henry Thomas and others.

The New England Patriots (6-5) return home this week to host the Dallas Cowboys (6-5). It will be the 59th consecutive sellout at Foxboro Stadium, including preseason and postseason games, dating back to the 1994 season opener. It will be the third regular season prime time game hosted by the Patriots this season and their second ESPN Sunday night game of the year. The Patriots defeated the Giants, 16-14, in their first appearance on ESPN this season and are 2-0 against NFC opponents this year.

Entering the 13th week of the season, the Patriots find themselves in an all-too-familiar place … with 6 wins and 5 losses. In each of the last two seasons, the Patriots record after 11 games was 6-5. In 1997, the team responded to win four of their last five games to finish 10-6 and win their second consecutive division title. Last year, the team won three of their next four games to clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive year. Never before had the Patriots qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

In hopes of extending that streak to four consecutive playoff seasons, the Patriots must end their current three-game losing streak this week against the Dallas Cowboys, a team they have never defeated during the regular season (0-7 regular season record). The Cowboys enter this week's game having had 10 days to prepare for the Patriots after defeating the Miami Dolphins 17-0 on Thanksgiving Day. At 6-5, the Cowboys trail Washington by just one game in the NFC East and are in sole possession of second place in the divisional race. The Patriots, on the other hand, are 6-5 and are in fourth place in the division, three games behind the division-leading Indianapolis Colts with five games to play.

Turnovers have turned on the Patriots in recent weeks. In the first eight games of the season, the Patriots surrendered just 11 turnovers and were on pace to set a new franchise low for the fewest turnovers in a season. Yet, in the last three weeks, the Patriots have turned the ball over 10 times and now have 21 turnovers for the season. Over the past two years, the Patriots have averaged just 23 turnovers per season, including a franchise record 22 turnovers in 1997.

SERIES HISTORY

This week's game will be the eighth encounter between the Patriots and Cowboys and only their second in the 1990's. Dallas is the only non-expansion team the Patriots have never defeated, posting a 0-7 record against Dallas. However, the games in the series have been close, five of the seven meetings have been decided by seven points or less and three have been by three or less. They have met in the preseason during the past four years, all Patriot victories.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots' offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese was the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys 1994-97.

Patriots' quarterback coach Jack Reilly held the same position for the Cowboys in 1997. *

Patriots' offensive tackle Zefross Moss was signed as a rookie free agent by the Cowboys in 1988. *

Patriots' middle linebacker Marty Moore was selected by the Patriots with the final selection in the 1994 draft (222nd). The pick was acquired from the Cowboys for in exchange for quarterback Hugh Millen. *

Patriots' safety Lawyer Milloy played with Cowboy's tight end Eric Bjornson at Washington. *

Patriots' special teams coach Brad Seely coached with the Carolina Panthers (1996-98) while the Cowboy's Raghib Ismail played wide receiver and kick returner.

CONSECUTIVE WINS

The Patriots have not defeated the Cowboys in any of the seven meetings between the two teams. They are the only non-expansion team the Patriots have not defeated. They currently hold the longest winning streak against the Patriots, seven games. The Denver Broncos did own the longest winning streak, 11 games, but the New England snapped that earlier this season, with a 24-23 victory.

Conversely, the Patriots longest current winning streak is against the San Diego Chargers, who have lost nine times in a row versus New England.

LAST MEETING

The New England Patriots traveled to Dallas and held the Cowboys to just 12 points on four field goals, but could not generate any touchdowns of their own and lost by a final of 12-6.

The Patriots defense set the tone for the game on the opening drive. Ferric Collons and Dwayne Sabb combined for a sack on 3rd-and-3 to force the Cowboys to punt. The Patriots took possession at their own 35 and drove to the 4-yard-line, but failed to convert a touchdowns after three pass attempts fell incomplete. They settled for a field goal and an early 3-0 lead in the game. One play later, Ty Law intercepted his first of two passes on the day at the Cowboys 30 yard-line. New England had to settle for their second field goal of the game and a 6-0 lead. Herschel Walker returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards before Adam Vinatieri caught him from behind to make the touchdown-saving tackle at the Patriots 19-yard-line. The defense held firm and the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal late in the first quarter. On their next possession, the Patriots were driving, but suffered their first of four turnovers on the day. The Cowboys were able to take the turnover and even the score at six late in the first half.

The Cowboys increased their lead by three points on their first possession of the second half to take their first lead in the game, 9-6. On the Patriots ensuing possession, a pass from Bledsoe was tipped into the air by Ben Coates and intercepted by Darren Woodsen at the Patriots 25 and returned to the 4-yard-line. Once again, the defense stopped the Cowboys offense, pushing them back to 11 before settling for their fourth field goal and a 12-6 victory.

Ty Law earned player of the game honors for his defense of Michael Irvin. Law finished with two interceptions and seven total tackles.

QUARTERBACK CLUB

This week Patriots' quarterback Drew Bledsoe will square off against the Cowboys Troy Aikman. Each player was taken first in their respective drafts, Aikman (1989) and Bledsoe (1993).

Bledsoe started in his 100th game last week against the Bills. In those starts he has thrown for 24,775 yards, 145 touchdowns while leading the Patriots to 56 victories.

Aikman, who has started in 149 career games during his 11-year career with the Cowboys, had five more victories than Drew in his first 100 starts, but his passing totals were less than Bledsoe's, see below:

PlayerAttCompYds.TDInt.RatingW-L
Bledsoe374120912477514511576.456-44
Aikman27771744200271018683.761-39
AFC EAST STANDINGS

WLTPct.
Indianapolis Colts920.818
Miami Dolphins830.727
Buffalo Bills840.667
New England650.545
New York Jets470.364

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